Each of us, the masters say, has a path. A path that is unique to us for it is based on our characteristics, experiences, and bent of mind. Karma yoga (the path of action) comes naturally to the action-oriented, bhakti yoga (the path of love) to the emotional artist, poet or woman and jnana yoga (the path of knowledge) to the analytical mind of the thinker.
I too have a path that I discovered some 10 years ago through a process of inner awakening. It works for me. I am tempted to share it with you in the hope that some of you might find parts of it useful. What I have to share is not different or new; it is just another spoke in the wheel of Truth.
Mine is a three-pronged mantra. It consists of focussing on the otherís happiness, my growth and the moment. All three are inter-related and each strengthens the other. Together, they sum up my formula for happiness.
Focussing on the otherís happiness is based on an experience I had 10 years ago when a relationship cracked. I was told that I had not made the other happy. This prompted me to study the nature of happiness (more so because at that point I was anything but) and to attempt to make the person happy outside the relationship. I found that my intention was constantly being upturned by my own feelings and needs, such as my anger, sense of rejection, jealousy, etc. It then occurred to me that if I really wanted the other personís happiness then my focus should be out there and not in here, in the region of my feelings, etc. An astounding thing happened when I put this concept into practice. I found that focusing on the otherís happiness simply freed me out of the hold of my own narrow consciousness. In one fell move, which I actually experienced as a physical shift of perspective, my consciousness would expand to the level of the other, enabling me to respond to the situation without reference to how I felt about it. No matter how challenging the situation, whether it involved a confrontation, or a putdown, I was perfectly appropriate in my treatment, simply because my commitment at all times was to the otherís happiness and the betterment of our relationship.
When I share this with others most feel that I am talking about an abject form of self-abasement. But what I experienced was the polar opposite. I was not reducing myself to nothing, but instead transcending my own ego. I started practicing this discipline of putting the otherís happiness ahead of my own ongoingly. Assume, for instance, that a friend wants me to take care of her child for a week while she attends to a sick relative. Despite the difficulty, I gladly do so because her happiness matters more than my convenience. Small stuff certainly, and something most us would do, but perhaps the difference is in the willingness with which we accept the task. Most of us may do it out of a sense of duty, but we would suppress niggling feelings of resentment or resistance. But my formula would say that we do it because we want to make the other happy, not because we must. When we approach all our duties and obligations with the zestful intention of securing the otherís happiness, we ourselves become happy. I found that making others happy made me happy.
I will continue with the other components of my mantra next week. In the meantime, ponder upon happiness. What makes you happy? More important, what doesnít? How can you be happy ongoingly? These questions will take you to the very edge of the existential problem of our lives: our lack of inner ease and peace. All progress, material or spiritual, has come about through our attempt to solve it. This one question is enough to take you into enlightenment if you inquire deeply enough.
BY SUMA VARUGHESE
Read Part 2